A Day of Adventure

I don't know if one could call roaming around the town where one lives as adventure, but I found a lot of places that I had either never seen or else didn't know existed. I live in Moore (over a year without a tornado) Oklahoma, which is about twelve miles from downtown Oklahoma City. In the ten years I've lived here, the only reason I would ever go downtown was if I had to and then it was get in, get finished and get out. Downtown OKC is just like any other town of half a million; too many cars, too few parking spaces and people rushing in all directions.

I decided to try out my CARiBIKE under the conditions for which it was designed. I lashed my carrying bag to the rear carrier and rode the three miles from my home to the nearest OKC Transit stop and waited. The bus rolled up in a cloud of diesel smoke and the door swung open. I asked if the bike needed to be in the bag and was told to just get on. Being well into my AARP, senior discount years, I dropped two quarters into the collector. Then I lifted the front, rolled the bike down the aisle to the back of the bus and we were off on the ten mile trip to downtown.

Just across the street from the bus terminal is the entrance to the underground walkway system for downtown. It was designed to allow people to escape the wind and heat in the summer and the wind and the cold in the winter. It branches out in a Christmas Tree fashion to a number of downtown buildings. I pushed my bike along the walkway, stopping to visit with merchants who have small booths along the way and even with a cop who I figured would say something about my having a bicycle down there -- he didn't even mention it. I made my way six blocks to the Federal Courthouse where an elevator took me into the lobby where I had to pass through a security system metal detector. One security lady asked what was in the folded bag on the back and I set off their machine with the rod they put in my leg when I broke it back in January. They looked at my scar, ran a thing that looks like a barbecue starter up and down my leg, decided that I was a danger to no one except perhaps myself and let me go. The tunnel used to end in the garage of the Murrah Federal Building but it's now blocked off. I stopped by to see the memorial now that it's finished. Very impressive and moving place.

I rode the four blocks from the courthouse to Brown's Bakery for a cup of coffee and one of their killer cinnamon rolls. They have been around for more than fifty years and, for half of that, have been the destination for the bicycle club's Saturday morning donut ride. It being Tuesday, I was the only cyclist there.

I made my way north from Brown's through one of the classic older neighborhoods of Oklahoma City known as Mesta Park to the Overholser Mansion which was built by one of the early day oil barons. It's now open to the public as a living museum of that time.

Not far away is a two-block long street known as The Paseo. For many years it was infested by drug dealers, prostitutes and gang members until the few remaining residents decided to take back their neighborhood. With the help of the police department, revitalization grants and a lot of concentrated effort, it is now cleaned up and has become an artists colony with small studios and shops selling things made mostly on the spot.

From the Paseo I made my way back southward through the Oritental district of OKC. It's a pleasing blend of sights and aromas not usually associated with cowboys, Indians and Oklahoma. In a single block there areThai, Chinese and Viet Namese restaurants and a Taco Bell. I ended up across the street from Brown's Bakery at a place called The Grateful Bean. The only meat they serve is chicken and only in one menu item each day. I'm not a vegetarian but could easily become one considering the tasty meals they serve there.

After lunch I made my way to the Phoenix Book Store. IMHO, there is no place better to lose yourself than among shelves filled with used books. One never knows what jewel they might turn up. Three hours later I left with a couple prizes tucked away inside the bike bag on the rear carrier. This store is operated by a drug rehab organization as a fund raising effort to support their programs. In addition to finding some great books, you are helping support a vital program for the city.

I took back streets to an area called Bricktown because there was once a huge brick factory there and all the warehouses were built from the same red brick. It's now one of the fastest growing areas of town for trendy restaurants and shops. A canal with tour boats opened a year ago along with one of the nicest minor league baseball parks in the nation. I locked my bike beside several police bikes in the rack at the police station and strolled along the canal. There is no shortage of tourist type places going in but there is for parking. When you do find a space, it costs five bucks. I still don't understand why people haven't discovered that a bicycle is the ideal way to go there -- and it saves them enough on parking to almost buy dinner.

I got back to the terminal just as my bus was loading with the getting-off-work crowd. The driver motioned toward the rear of the bus where a wheelchair lift folded out of the side and dropped to the sidewalk. I rolled the bike onto the ramp, it rose to level with the bus floor where I could roll it into an empty space large enough for two wheelchairs and it folded shut. I forgot to go pay my fare and I suppose the driver did too.

It was one of the neatest days I've spent in quite a while.

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Copyright 2000 by Jim Foreman